Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
February 27, 2024
Powerlifting to Bodybuilding
By Daryl Gazey
Judging Director - World Natural Sports Organization (WNSO)

Powerlifting to Bodybuilding - Crossing the Bridge

powerlifting body building Hoisting tons of iron as part of your regular routine has undoubtedly brought your physique a comparative return; thick muscle bellies, strong tendons and ligaments and the often "superhuman" strength that accompanies this treasured sport. Feats of strength and competitive powerlifting have always been revered as a "not for the faint at heart" type of ordeal. A tremendous commitment to training, diet and the ever-important mindset of a champion are prerequisites that separate the amateurs from the elite.

Many of those in the sport of competitive bodybuilding have tracked their roots back to powerlifting and have credited the benefits to their success. In over sixty published books Dr. Fred Hatfield (or "Dr. Squat" as he's affectionately known for his world record 1014 lb. lift) draws a strong comparative base between excelling in bodybuilding and the parallels of powerlifting training.

Bodybuilding is a "24/7" sport of dedication and persistence to stringent dieting processes, variations in training and shifting the focus from strength function to the aesthetics of muscularity, defined symmetry and a lean body composition. This objective tends to run some interference with powerlifting strategies of moving more weight at all costs, lending little credence to the aesthetic portion of the body. Making the decision to travel on the bridge from powerlifting to bodybuilding or physique competitions is often the choice of many athletes and competitors who choose to expand on their strength abilities. The strong correlation between being able to add iron to the bar always directly impacts gains in muscle mass. What do you need to do should you choose to try your hand at bodybuilding?

Many diligent amateur bodybuilders, including WNSO's Adam Yezer, have successfully managed to incorporate both factions of training styles in taking the triple lifts to sculpting a noteworthy physique. For some, the changes only need to take place several months before a physique competition where modifications in diet and incorporating cardiovascular training are necessary to shed unwanted body fat. Adam relies on the basic powerlifting movements to build muscle mass in the "off season" while feeding his muscles throughout the day with quality protein and being mindful of rest and recuperation which are both essential to the recovery process.

As a general rule of practice, most powerlifters find themselves training in the 80% range (or beyond) of their 1 rep maximum to consistently increase lifting strength. For bodybuilders, an increased repetition range of 8-12 reps at 70-80% of their maximum lift is sufficient to stimulate muscle growth. Combined with calorie controlled high protein meals evenly spaced throughout the day, body fat can be lowered to the levels necessary for physique competitions. Bodybuilding is everything about progressive resistance and not necessarily centered solely on maximal lifts but an effective combination of varying training styles to accomplish this desired result. Many of the WNSO Pros will add isolation exercises to accomplish a specific training result as contest time draws in. With the rigors of this strict training style and diet, it is not uncommon for a reduction in strength to accompany this period of time- certainly a detriment to the competitive powerlifters.

Bodybuilding is about generating intensity in training of a different form than that of powerlifting. Varying repetitions in training and utilizing strategies such as drop-sets and supersets is often commonplace in the repertoires of bodybuilders. Intensity being defined as the ability to place maximum load on a trained muscle group by the following methods:

· Increasing training poundage progressively
· Decreasing rest time between sets
· Increasing and/or varying set/repetition schemes (high rep days/low rep strength days, etc.)
· A combination of the above principles

Likely, the largest difference in the game plan of bodybuilding vs. powerlifting would be in the low body fat levels of the first mentioned. If you have chosen to branch out and add bodybuilding to your athletic profile, serious considerations must be given to this crucial area. The success of a champion weightlifter is not relevant to whether his/her abdominal muscles are visible. Be prepared to sacrifice a great deal in the calorie department and make friends with your favorite piece of cardio equipment (bodybuilders have been known to knock out an hour of cardio or more per day in the months leading to competition). Where powerlifters are "eating for size and function," bodybuilders desire to maintain their levels of muscularity while stripping the fat for the stage. There's no argument that powerlifters possess a tremendous amount of muscle mass and bodybuilders are known for their "chiseled" and sculpted look.

Take a look at the following sample diet so that you can assess the structure that some competitive bodybuilders are following in getting that "ripped" contest condition:

powerlifting to bodybuilding Sample Menu One for 200 lb. Bodybuilder

Meal 1

5 egg whites
1 whole egg
2˝ oz. oatmeal (dry weight) with low-fat milk
1 banana
1 Multi-Vitamin/Mineral pack

Meal 2

Meal-replacement shake

Meal 3

5 oz. grilled chicken breast (precooked weight)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup steamed mixed vegetables
1 glass low-fat milk

Meal 4

5 oz. grilled chicken breast (precooked weight)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup steamed mixed vegetables
1 glass low-fat milk

Meal 5

5 oz. grilled chicken breast (precooked weight)
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup steamed mixed vegetables
1 orange

Meal 6

4 oz. grilled chicken breast (precooked weight)
1˝ cups cooked rice
1 cup steamed mixed vegetables
1 apple

Meal 7

Meal-replacement shake

Take these guidelines into consideration if your desire is to broaden your lifting horizons as Adam and many others have, from the "bench to the stage".

World Natural Sports Organization (WNSO) offers categories for all levels of competitive bodybuilders: from novice to professional, there are categories that will match your age or experience level.

Eat, Sleep, Train, Repeat….Compete!

Daryl Gazey is the Judging Director of the World Natural Sports Organization where he oversees the complete judging process of the popular FAME World Events series. To get in touch with Daryl or for more information on how you can get involved in natural bodybuilding, contact WNSO by email: compete@WNSO.com phone: 905-709-WNSO or visit them on the web: www.FAMEworldevents.com // www.WNSO.com.


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